Race Report: GS Women Go Pro At BC Superweek

Contributed by GS Womens Racing Team Member, Erin Redl

As always in the second week of July, club rides were being missed, bikes were being tuned and shined, and nervous excitement was reaching its peak for the Glotman•Simpson Women's Race Team. It was BC Superweek again - a series of 9 high profile races over 10 days all located within the Lower Mainland. 

This year's Superweek contingent in black and yellow included four of the regulars: Morgan Cabot, Alysia Withers, Justine Clift, and myself Erin Redl, while Jenn McConkey graduated to the role of women's team manager. The team also imported two outstanding guest riders - Alison Jackson from Fraser Valley with a strong athletic background in track and triathlon, and Ivy Audrain, the cheeriest sprinter from Washington State. As a well-known local amateur club and with the support of the men's race team, club members, and sponsors, these seven women left their mark on BC Superweek 2014. Sadly, race team member Claire Cameron was unable to participate this year as she was overseas competing in the Japan Cup for track cycling (but really, how awesome is that!).

GS Women Superweek Superstars

GS Women Superweek Superstars

Pre-race team hugs and high fives were mandatory.

Pre-race team hugs and high fives were mandatory.

So, why does Superweek deserve the title "Super?"

For starters, Superweek sponsors provide $120,000 of prize money over the week, and one event - the Gastown Grand Prix - provides the largest single-day prize for women in North America at $13,000 for first place. The Superweek series also receives significant media attention. Our own Justine Clift and Jenn McConkey made an appearance last year in BBC's Day in Pictures for racing in Gastown. Locally, the events are advertised in newspapers, on transit buses, and billboards all over the Lower Mainland.  

The other "Super" part of the week is the number of participants and calibre of women that these events attract. A far stretch from a typical local race or even from a Washington stage race, Superweek races had as many as 75 women on the starting line this year and attracted some of North America's most talented female racers. The start line call-ups included multiple instances of "national champion" and "Olympian." And as the events have grown in the past two years, we have lined up not only beside very talented women, but beside full teams of very talented women. 

We take these races seriously... (mostly) all of the time.

We take these races seriously... (mostly) all of the time.

Erin warms up for her 5th race of the week.

Erin warms up for her 5th race of the week.

This year the Tour de Delta White Spot Road Race was the first women's BC Superweek race to be a UCI classified event wherein riders can receive world ranking points. However, to the local rider it simply means being able to participate in the protocol, professionalism, and grandeur of a UCI event. This includes being led by a parade of police cruisers and followed by a caravan of team vehicles, commissaires, and media personnel. It also means being subjected to anti-doping control programs and a pre-race full team on-stage sign-on and photos, just like in the Tour de France. Major races require a lot of support from mechanics, team managers, and individuals to prep all race materials, gear, food, and water before and during the races. We were fortunate to have fellow GS Club Members on hand to not only help out but to cheer us on from the sidelines.

The GS Experience - Podiums and Other Successes

We are honoured that Alison Jackson takes the cake for Superweek success. She finished 2nd in the opening event of Superweek, the MK Delta Criterium which included a mere 36 climbs. A week later, she stood atop the podium again in 1st place for the Tour de White Rock Hill Climb, a 700 metre-long, 16% grade sufferfest. That was followed up by a 3rd place in the White Rock Criterium and 5th in the White Rock Road Race, wearing the omnium leader's jersey the entire time. Alison says about her first Superweek experience, "I had great results but it really was about measuring myself up to the pros and national champions which is not easy but very rewarding." GS was also extremely proud to have supported Ivy Audrain at the Tour de Delta, where she finished 7th place in both critieriums.

"Not winning does not mean losing!"

Morgan Cabot and Alysia Withers receive high commendation for finishing the gruelling, fast Delta Brenco Criterium. Morgan stretched herself to strongly finish the UCI Delta Road Race, and the Gastown Grand Prix - notably lead the pack around cobbled streets for a lap to the delight and cheers from GS club members in the crowd. She rounded out the week by completing the Tour de White Rock Criterium, and finishing 8th in the Tour de White Rock Road Race, staying with the race leaders on the punishing hills for nearly the entire race.

Alison signs her autograph for a future bicycle racer.

Alison signs her autograph for a future bicycle racer.

Show time! Pro time!

Show time! Pro time!

For some recreational riders (we can call them racers-to-be), all this "gruelling and punishing work" alongside pros may sound pretty intimidating. However, for many (i.e. our GS women) the experience and success is much more than that. Despite not finishing a single race this year, I can easily list my Superweek accomplishments as not getting dropped on the descents for once and pushing harder after I thought I was totally spent.

Jenn explains, "Our focus is typically on fun and being part of a team. I want to inspire other women who like riding their bikes fast, and encourage them if racing is something they want to do - it's OK to just go out there, give it your all, and learn." 

My highlights were riding alongside teammates in the White Rock Road Race and being treated like a pro for a day. Alysia also shares her accomplishments,  "...after a full season of training hard, I felt confident in both skills and strength to compete alongside some of the best female racers in North America... and even better, felt like a real pro after receiving a stellar 40 km/hr bottle hand-off in the feed zone." 

On behalf of the GS Mens and Womens Racing Teams, our sincerest appreciation and thank yous go out to our sponsors, club members, cheer squads, family, and friends, that have helped support us at BC Superweek and the entire 2014 season. See you again in 2015!

Glotman•Simpson Cycling is proud of its far-reaching involvement in Vancouver's cycling community and of its history of bringing novice riders into the local racing scene. If you are interested in riding and racing with the GS women's team now or next year, contact Morgan Cabot.


Glotman•Simpson Cycling at BC Superweek 2014

Photos courtesy of David Gillam, Bryce Reid, and Kurt Withers